Even if you’ve never visited a theatre, music venue, comedy club, cinema, museum or art gallery in your life or haven’t done so for a long time, you’ll be aware that without paying customers our arts and culture world is currently struggling for survival.
The theatre industry has been particularly devastated and with Christmas pantomimes unlikely to happen, hundreds of provincial theatres for whom panto is their biggest annual earner, could be in real trouble in 2021 – which is shocking.
Before lock down, the West End attracted visitors from all over the world, annually boosting the economy by many millions – which has evaporated this year.
Closer to home, the restaurants, bars and hotels surrounding Cardiff Millennium Centre used to benefit from the audiences visiting the venue, generating more income for the Chancellor.
When lock down happened, huge West End shows, rock & pop concerts and theatre tours were cancelled overnight, putting thousands out of work – not just the stars, but all the musicians, drivers, riggers, caterers, set designers, carpenters, electricians, sound and lighting technicians, stage managers, bar and front of house staff…and many more without whom ‘ the show can’t go on’.
The announcement that the U.K. Government has agreed to pump £1.5 billion into arts and culture might have delighted many, but I’d guess it also annoyed members of the public who think the world of theatre and live performance is purely for the elite and has no connection with their lives.
TV is their sole source of entertainment with its hundreds of channels plus the bewildering choice of films and series provided by streaming services.
However they fail to appreciate that many actors, writers and directors who provide their TV entertainment, initially learned their skills with amateur dramatic societies and youth theatre groups prior to taking the plunge into professional theatre, grafting away anonymously for years before getting that first break in TV or film.
TV addicts disinterested in theatre should consider that without it, their nightly entertainment could well consist of wall-to-wall, mind-numbing reality shows featuring z-list nonentities.
Having planted that thought, I shall now exit…stage right!